At SGHT we were greatly saddened to hear of the passing on 15 January 2022 of our dear friend and colleague Robert (Bob) Burton, one of South Georgia’s greatest ambassadors and advocates.
Bob first visited South Georgia in 1964. As a scientist employed by BAS and FIDS during the 60’s and early 70’s he undertook pioneer research into the ecology and life cycle of albatross and seals, including the launch of a new programme of research on fur seals and albatrosses in 1972. Under Bob’s directorship (from 1994 – 1998) the South Georgia Museum expanded its focus and the Grytviken Church was repaired following major storm damage.
Bob enthusiastically volunteered his time and energy to assist the work of the South Georgia Association, the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and the James Caird Society. He was involved in the writing, editing and publication of several books on South Georgia including “A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia” (with John Croxall) proceeds of which support the Trust’s conservation work, “South Georgia” (Government of South Georgia), “Shackleton at South Georgia” (with Stephen Venables) and “Important Bird Areas of South Georgia” (with Clarke, Croxall, Poncet, and Martin).
He has documented many aspects of South Georgia’s heritage, including Louise and other wrecks of South Georgia, The Grytviken Hydro power plant and more recently sealing beaches of South Georgia.
He has given specialist advice supporting the SGHT Habitat Restoration – Rat eradication programme and other heritage matters. Bob acted as project manager for a joint SGHT/SGA/FOSGI sealing archaeology survey in 2019 to protect and preserve the remains of the earliest human activities at South Georgia.
Bob was an excellent “tourism” ambassador in his role as cruise ship guide promoting interest and support of all aspects of South Georgia. His commitment to furthering all aspects knowledge of South Georgia heritage was unfailing. His ability to cajole and stimulate others into contributing, time, knowledge, articles and photographs to the ‘collective knowledge’ was legendary.
Bob’s vast contribution to South Georgia has included research, authorship, expeditions, conservation and heritage initiatives. In 2018 Bob received the Morag Husband Campbell Medal from the South Georgia Association in recognition of his contribution to South Georgia.